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Playable Pac-Man Costume 


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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

Written By: Russell Luzinski 


• Carpenter's square (1) 

• Laptop computer (1) 

• Saw(1) 


Furring strips (1) 

Dry wall screws (1) 

Plywood (1) 

Plastic bathroom corner trim (1) 
It slides onto the end of paneling 

Finishing nails (1) 

Spray paint (1) 

Plexiglass (1) 

Wood screws (1) 

USB gamepad controller (1) 

Arcade-emulation software (1) 

Cabinet artwork (1) 

Plastic laminate (1) 


For an 80s-themed Halloween party, I wanted a costume that was unique, incorporated 
technology, and would be fun for fellow partygoers. I'd been toying with the idea of making a 
mini arcade machine for my game room, so I decided to come up with one that I could also 

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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

wear as my costume. What follows is a guide to making your own wearable Pac-Man that 
guarantees you'll be the life of the costume party. It's fun to build and to wear. And I've since 
converted it to a bar-top arcade machine, so this costume can play long after the Halloween 
parties are over. 



Start by measuring and cutting the plywood side panels, so you can use them as a 
template for the frame construction. I made mine 19" wide by 28" high, but cater yours to 
your physical size and preference. 

Using the furring strips, make the 2 square frame pieces that form the top and the bottom 
of the frame. Assemble with drywall screws (pre-drill the holes or the wood will split). 

Use a square to ensure that everything will fit later in the assembly. Make sure the frame 
is wide enough to accommodate both the width of your chest and the width of your laptop 
(with your controller plugged in). 

Using the plywood templates, measure and cut the 4 main vertical frame supports. I 
angled the 2 front supports to line up with the angle of the soon to-be arcade screen. 
Attach all 4 supports to the 2 square pieces with drywall screws. 

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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

• Frame up the control panel area in 
the same way, and then firmly 
secure the laptop to the cabinet 
frame. I first made a small ledge to 
support the laptop's weight, and 
then added a horizontal piece just 
above that and behind the laptop. 
This allowed me to lock the laptop 
into place by sliding it into the 
newly made slot. By this point, I 
was already running the necessary 
software to play Pac-Man. A simple 
internet search of the word 
"MAME" will point you in the right 

• Finish framing the marquee and a 
pocket for the controller. I made 
the joystick removable, so people 
didn't need to be right in my face 
while playing. The directional pad 
on my Gravis Gamepad Pro 
joystick included a removable 
joystick ball, but I replaced that 
with a larger wooden ball from a 
craft store. 

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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

• Assemble the plywood panels and plastic corner trim onto the frame. The trim slides onto 
the edges of the paneling, which makes the whole process pretty forgiving. Use small 
finishing nails to secure the paneling and trim directly to the frame. The image shows the 
pocket I made for the gamepad. 

• It was small enough for the joystick to be wedged in pretty securely, yet still allowed for it 
to be removed. 

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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

• Time to paint! Make sure the room 
is well ventilated, and wear a 
mask. I gave the paneling a sand- 
down and then slapped on a layer 
of primer. Next up were 2V2 cans of 
sunshine yellow enamel spray 

• After 3 coats, install the plexiglass 
for the screen and marquee. I used 
a utility knife to cut the plexiglass 
pieces, then fastened them in place 
with screws and washers. Figure 3 
shows the marquee and screen 
installed, along with the screen's 
bezel. I found all the cabinet 
artwork online, printed it on a laser 
jet printer, and covered it in clear 
plastic laminate. 

• I added the side art and a picture of 
a coin mechanism, and then 
mounted a small, battery-powered 
light to backlight the marquee. For 
shoulder straps, I used bungee 
cords wrapped in kitchen towels. 
With that, the build was complete. 

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Playable Pac-Man Costume 

• While I tried to make the cabinet as 

ight as possible, the costume still 
weighed upward of 30lbs. Make 
your shoulder straps as 
comfortable as possible. You might 
experiment with lighter materials. 

Also note that the costume is 
playable only as long as your 
laptop battery holds out. You might 
want to bring the laptop charger to 
the party and use it to give your 
battery a charge and your 
shoulders a rest. 

I used a picture of an arcade coin 
mechanism, but a real one can be 
purchased online at a reasonable 
price. Finally, while the removable 
controls worked well enough, I 
recommend fashioning some kind 
of locking mechanism to keep the 
controller from slipping out while 
being used. Or permanently secure 
the controller to the cabinet. 

This project first appeared in Make: Halloween Special Edition , page 46. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 02:51 :1 AM. 

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